September 26, 2021
Stampede Open Season with a Bang
The Buffalo Stampede opened their inaugural USPHL season this past weekend with a home-and-home series against interdivisional opponents, the Lake Erie Bighorns, including the team’s home opener at Cornerstone CFCU Arena on Saturday. In a series with no shortage of fireworks, the Stampede walked away with 3 points after a Friday overtime victory and a Saturday shootout loss.
The team traveled to Erie, PA on Friday for their first game ever in Stampede sweaters. Buffalo wasted no time getting things started, as Bryson Miller opened the scoring for the Stampede just a minute and a half into the first period with assists from Brendan Bastian and Parker Bonsignore. That lead would hold for most of the period until the Bighorns tied it up with just 30 seconds left in the period. The second period would see a 2-1 tally in advantage of the Stampede with goals by Parker Bonsignore, assisted by Caden Cranston, and Jason Melanson, assisted by both Cranston brothers. Facing a 3-2 deficit heading into the final period, the Bighorns popped in two quick goals in the first five minutes to take their first lead of the game. Parker Bonsignore answered back for the Stampede at the 11:18 mark with his second goal of the night, assisted by his partner in crime, Caden Cranston. After the Bighorns scored their fifth goal to regain the lead heading into the final minutes of the game, the Stampede battled back and tied it up with a late, unassisted goal by Blake Dewey. That tie would hold through the end of regulation, forcing the game into overtime.
As the overtime session got underway, both teams levied multiple scoring attempts, testing each goalie’s stamina. Just as the clock passed the 3-minute mark, a scrum ensued in front of the Lake Erie net following a rebound. Amidst the brouhaha, Jason Melanson found the loose puck and buried it in the back of the Bighorn net, securing the first victory in Stampede franchise history. Rookie netminder, Luke Remenyi got his first USPHL start and first USPHL win, stopping 50 of the 55 shots he faced on the night.
The series moved back to Lockport on Saturday night as the Stampede hosted their inaugural home opener at Cornerstone CFCU Arena. As the stands filled local fans, as well as many visiting fans who made the 120 mile trek from Erie, the Stampede took the ice for the first game in their new home. As the fanfare of the starting lineups and national anthem subsided, the game got off to a quick start.
The fans at the “Bank” didn’t have to wait long for the excitement as Caden Cranston tallied the first goal of the game, and the first of his USPHL career, just 35 seconds into the first period, assisted by Parker Bonsignore. After the early fireworks, both teams would settle in for a physical first period. As the horn sounded to close out the first 20 minutes, the Stampede carried a 1-0 lead into the intermission. The second period saw plenty of back-and-forth action and physical play. After a mostly scoreless period, Parker Bonsignore would extend the Stampede lead to two with just 13 seconds left to play, scoring his third goal of the young season, assisted by Caden Cranston and Bryson Miller. As the teams took the ice for the third period, the Bighorns looked to mount a comeback, scoring their first goal of the game just inside the 2-minute mark. Not phased, the Stampede answered back just 13 seconds later as Lockport native, Joe LoBrutto, scored his first USPHL goal, assisted by Max Ciepiela. As the third period continued to get more physical and heated, the Bighorns managed to sneak in two more goals to tie the game, a score that would hold through the end of regulation.
As the recipients of a 5 minute major penalty near the end of the third period, the Stampede had to play 80% of the overtime period down a man. Staying calm under pressure, netminder, Joe Willis and the Stampede defense stood tall, holding off a barrage of Bighorn scoring attempts. As the final seconds of overtime ticked away, the Stampede mounted a late push, as USPHL veteran, Jacob Vacanti came just short of burying the final shot of the bonus period, sending the game into a shootout. In an exciting 5-rounds, Caden Cranston would score the Stampede’s lone shootout goal, to the Bighorn’s two, as the home team would fall just short of securing victory in their home opener.
Joe Willis would get the start in net for the Stampede, and would turn away 27 of 30 shots in regulation and overtime, as well as stopping 3 of 5 in the shootout, in his first USPHL contest.
The Stampede will be back in action at Cornerstone CFCU Arena this Friday, October 1st as they take on Mid Atlantic division rivals, the Elmira Jr. Enforcers, at 8:00 PM.